The promise of EEStor has just jumped another notch. First, Lockheed which has an arrangement with EEStor is not firing off patent applications like this unless their confidence in the technology is very high. There is little incentive in been premature. You can loose rights that may become valuable decades from now when someone else solves the problem. This patent is a strong indication that they think that they can deliver.
Secondly, and suddenly we are talking about an energy skin. This is huge. To start with, the car battery can become part of the exterior shell. It may even provide other advantages such as shock resistance. In this case it is integral to the body armor. This is real star wars armor.
I am actually more encouraged by this news than any news from EEStor directly. The threshold for disclosure is hugely higher to anything necessary with a startup such as EEStor. All the right questions will have been asked. I even suspect that proof of concept samples were wandering around before the patent was drafted.
We also have another reason for the present level of secrecy. EEStor surely wants product development money from the military and that means subjecting themselves to the type of security that Lockheed Martin lives with every day.
Science fiction writers can now describe an armored combatant packing enough energy in the armor to power a hand held microwave lasing weapon. We can even do it all in white.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Another layer of EEStor mystery was removed on Dec 24, 2008 when a patent application belonging to Lockheed Martin was published via the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for a "Garment Including Electrical Energy Storage Unit." Thus, a new reason for Lockheed Martin's reticence to comment on EEStor technology has emerged: discussing it too early could jeopardize Intellectual Property Lockheed wishes to take a hold of via this and perhaps other patent initiatives.
The application goes on to describe a new form of utility garment that includes body armor among other things. Specifically, the application discusses that the electrical energy storage unit "substantially conforms to an armour plate." The plate in turn may be "contoured to better fit a person wearing armor."
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the application is that the EESU is described as "soft" and apparently aids the resistance of the armour:
The soft nature of electrical energy storage layers 203 and 401 a-401 h, relative to armor plate 201 , causes a ballistic round or fragment to spiral upon striking one of layers 203 and 401 a-401 h, which provides an enhancement to the ballistic resistance of armor plate 201
The application goes on to describe power redundancy in the overall garment:
Preferably, the electrical energy storage layer comprises a plurality of sections so that, if one of the plurality of sections is damaged, the other sections of the plurality of sections remain operable. Two or more sections of the plurality of sections of the electrical energy storage layer may be electrically coupled, either in parallel or in series. The body armor includes one or more connectors electrically coupled with the electrical energy storage layer and/or with one or more of the sections of the electrical energy storage layer. The electrical connectors provide access to electrical power stored in the electrical energy storage layer.
The electrical storage layer sits outside the armor layer.
The application includes generality for a lithium ion storage unit as well as a fuel cell storage for recharging the eesu or Li battery and names Toby D Thomas and David L. Hoelscher as inventors. Die hard EEStory followers will recall that the Department of Defense Wearable power competition that took place this past summer listed Hoelscher as it's team lead. Lockheed listed this URL as it's home website.
At the time of posting this article, Lockheed Martin was not available for comment.